Category: Family

A year later and I’m a happy introvert

I’m working from home today and I’m already on my fourth cup of coffee.  My Keurig isn’t the newest and the coffee has recently not been as hot as it should be, so I tend to drink it down rather fast.  I have my personal laptop playing Spotify in the background.  It’s playing the new Flaw album that came out only a few weeks or so ago and I’m amazed that they’ve kept the sound they had from 2001, yet making the new music relevant and fresh.  I’m in my basement office despite the house being entirely empty; daughter is at school and wife is at work.  Only the dog and cat are here to keep me company, but neither of them like the basement if I’m honest.  Like they know it’s a hole in the ground with a heavy two-story house sitting on top of it.

A basement is where you put the things that you don’t want normal visitors to see in your home.  The place where things are taken to be forgotten or stored for the next time it is appropriate for them to be taken back out.  The place where you can hide from the normal stresses and problems of the world if only for a little while until it is time to ascend up the steps.  I often see the basement as a pretty damn good metaphor for how my life is lived and conducted.  The basement is the place I go to remove myself from normal life and descend into a world of my own making, where my decisions are my own and thusly, I own the decisions I make.  Normal problems of life don’t follow me down here and in most circumstances, they don’t return until I’m ready to face them again.  In the past, I’ve spent hours and days in a figurative basement I created in my own mind shutting out everything except the most critical of things.

Fifth coffee down.

It is only now, while I’m sitting in a literal basement, that I finally see the potential for damage that my own descent into introvert holes can create.  There are people in my life that need me to be present in both physical and mental capacities, people who depend on the idea that I’m engaged as much as they are in the circle of life we’ve created together.  This was something that I did not truly understand until I wasn’t a member of the circle we created, where I had to be invited and even ask if it was okay to enter again.  A personal journey into my own life, as I now understand, required that jolt to the system that not being at home last year forced me to take.  At first I was a reluctant passenger, not wanting to admit that I was the cause, not wanting to admit that I had a problem.  In reality, I did have a problem, I was the cause, I was to blame.

After a few weeks, I knew that something had to give.  I had to learn that in order to get what I needed to stay out of the introvert hole, I needed to force myself through situations where I was uncomfortable.  Force is such a strong word.  Perhaps instead of force, I needed to choose to be in situations where I was uncomfortable in order to get into situations where I could retreat into solitude.  The people around me, the closest ones, needed to understand from me why this was a necessity.  That is exactly what I did, finding all sorts of online blogs that I could share with my wife to help her understand my introverted nature from her extroverted point of view.  We were, from the beginning, like oil and water, but I know now that is okay.  It’s okay to not be the same and see the world differently because that is what makes us unique and complimentary to each other.  We’re suited for different situations that, in turn, makes us together prepared for every situation that one or the other shares taking the lead on.

I’m okay with what has amounted to a continuous journey of learning.  Nothing is absolute and nothing is ever a problem that can’t be overcome.  The amazing thing about all of this is that not only had my wife given me another chance last year, but, together we have worked to get to a mutual level of understanding we can both be happy about.  We have started to, through actually talking (go figure), recognize the signs in each other when support is needed vs. solitude; taking charge vs. just observing; talking vs. listening.  We are by far not the perfect couple.  I’m scared of the perfect couple, it’s not natural.  Perfect couples, to me, are like sleeping volcanoes that will at some point blow up and decimate everything and everyone around them.  My sister-in-law is the Queen of bottling things up, creating pressure, and then to explode suddenly over something that essentially is trivial at best.

Sixth coffee down.

After a year of discovering with my wife at my side helping, I’m now in a good place where I feel that problems are recognized and talked about before they end up causing a larger problems.  We both talk a lot more now than we ever have in the past and it took us almost losing our marriage to understand why this is so important.  In a time where people get married and divorced at ever-increasing frequency, I’m happy with the fact that we decided together to work through our differences and adapted to our marriage at 16 years and stopped treating it like we were at 1, 5, or 10 years.  Marriages fail, in my opinion, because one or both participants failed to adapt to the change that marriage demands.  People get older, wiser in some instances, and therefore, it is logical to assume that a marriage needs to change in order to accommodate and stay strong.

I will always be an introvert.  My wife will always be an extrovert.  We understand that somewhat now.  We are cognizant of the fact we’re different people who need different things; sometimes not at the same time.  She gives me the time I need when I need it to regroup, collect, and process my thoughts.  I give her the time she needs when she needs it to connect and feel included to our lives.  We decided together to put the effort into our relationship despite the bumps and road blocks that life inevitably throws our way.  It wasn’t an easy lesson for me to learn personally as I have lived my life for more than 35 years clinging to a mindset that avoided life.  Enlightenment, to me, is understanding how you want things to be around you, but knowing that you’re not in control of anything other than your own actions.  The acceptance of that fact is what makes us choose to do things that aren’t what we want to do, but rather what we need to do in order to live.

15 years later, still hurts

I wrote this last year:  9/11, Never Forget

9-11_Honor_Remembrance
To all the people who died in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., I remember.

This year marks 15 years since the events on 9/11 unfolded in real-time in the American media and changed our view of the world forever.  Seeing the events unfold on documentaries, I’m still hit with the same raw emotion I felt on the day it actually happened.  I’ve consistently not liked this day since this happened, and it being a Sunday today, leaves me without the distraction of being at work.  The vivid detail I can recall is unsettling, which is something we can all do that lived through these events.

I’ve received some negativity from family and friends on this, however I have allowed my daughter to watch several of the documentaries including “102 Minutes That Changed the World” because I want her to understand the true gravity of the actions that took place.  I want her to understand why it was such a pivotal point in our history.  She asked a lot of questions to better understand what happened and I’m happy she did so that she understands everything they’re not going to show or talk about in school.  I don’t believe in shielding our children completely when there is a life lesson to learn, within certain limits of course.  Some things are better left to when she is older.

Life is raw, graphic, and tragic at times.  I would much rather my daughter have the foreknowledge and tools to handle life in her own way from me.  As her parent, it is my responsibility to pass onto her all the wisdom, knowledge, and experience I have had so that she can be the best person she is able to be.  I’ve adopted this approach, not because I want to be harsh, but because I want to be honest.  I want to be the person that she knows she can reach out to in times of trouble and confusion and know that nothing I say will be anything but truthful (to the best of my ability).  My extended family and friends don’t have that responsibility to her and do not have a right to express their negative opinion in how I choose to raise her.

I have purchased tickets from the local fire company for a day trip to New York scheduled for November 12th to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum for the family.  I’m already anxious for the trip in regards to my reaction to the physical location of the tragedy as I have not been to lower Manhattan since before 9/11 over 15 years ago.  Watching it online and seeing pictures of the progress pales in comparison to being there in person.  At some point in the coming year, I will be visiting the memorials in Washington D.C. and Shanksville, PA.  It is my responsibility to remember all the people that died on this tragic day for the rest of my life.  It is my responsibility to ensure that my daughter understands the true scope of this tragedy with the hope that it will never happen again in her lifetime.

Neoclassical economics are killing our Democracy

Corporate America is stealing our future one dollar at a time.  They have brainwashed us into believing that a neoclassical system they’ve put in place is the one that will create prosperity as they achieve wealth and power.  The players of this neoclassical system are corporations, banks, politicians, and the wealthy elite.  Their’s is a systems of Socialism, but we don’t see that because we’re driving the wheels of their machine through a Capitalist market.  Essentially, the capitalist non-elite are supporting the socialist elite.  I’ve been reading and watching a lot about this lately due in part to our ridiculous Presidential election coming up and also because I’m tired of being a pawn in their game of becoming ever richer.

Our elite have convinced us that the only way to be happy is to acquire debt that purchases the goods and services produced largely in other countries.  Debt, as I’ve come to realize, is basically a modern form of slavery.  We are slaves to the corporations, holding the majority of wealth in the country, that take what they want even when we don’t have it.  The 2008 housing bubble crisis proves this point to me in the form of thousands of foreclosures around the country.  The people who couldn’t afford predatory lending practices paid the price, they lost their home.  The banks and mortgage companies, left with sub-prime defaulted mortgages, got bailed out by the government.  They created over $8 trillion of new debt, created money out of nothing, to keep the companies that had become so pervasive in our economy that we couldn’t let them fail.  What if we had?  Where would we be?  Our country wouldn’t have died.  We would still be here, perhaps even with a reformed and more equal system.

Here’s a scary statistic.  All paper currency in the world right now is 97% debt.  The appearance that our world economy, in my opinion, is on the brink of collapse that even the elite won’t be able to stop.  Sure, they’re fine now, stroking the palms of politicians at the ratio of 5 lobbyists to 1 politician.  Over the last 50 years, the system has been rigged and contorted with massive deregulation, repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, created conflicts around the world.  All this has resulted in a system where only a wealthy few, contributing very little, have ridden the backs of billions of people making sure they can never climb out of poverty.

The Presidential elects have shown concern on the realization that the middle-class is disappearing.  That is the truth, the middle-class is shrinking.  They are borrowing more and more money as they’re buying into the lies of the elite corporations that sell them their mortgages, cars, and “stuff” that we are all brainwashed into thinking that we need.  I’m starting to think that middle-class is being systematically dismantled because they are the biggest threat to the wealthy elite running corporations, media, and government.  The middle-class, still with the ability to become aware of the truth and open their eyes to the system that has been allowed to continue, are a huge threat to the socialist system at the top of the heap.  I’m starting to question everything now.  I’m starting to actually research this and verify what I’m being told.  I’m shocked to find that verifiable facts are emerging through multiple sources that are confirming what my research is uncovering.

I am so frustrated at myself for having fallen into the propaganda without actually seeing the real motive behind all of this.  The arrogance the top corporate and political leaders have had for the last several decades.  It seriously pisses me off!  My concern isn’t for me, but for my daughter.  What is she going to inherit if this system is allowed to continue unchecked and unregulated?  What is she going to have to suffer with, or rather, without, as she gets older?  Will I be able to help her with college?  Will she be in a position where poverty is the only choice she has no matter how hard she works?  I’M ANGRY AT THE SYSTEM!

The military actions we’ve been involved with in the last 15 years since 9/11 are only proving to me that we have spread our parasitic system around the world.  We decimate a country hunting for possible terrorists.  We arrange for a huge loan from a world bank and then offer to rebuild their country.  That money that should have gone to the citizens left in that country instead go to U.S. based contractors that build infrastructure that the poorest people can’t access.  What good are highways without a car to drive on them?  What good is electricity grids if you don’t have a house to have it delivered to let alone pay for it to be delivered?  Instead, the poor people who don’t have a voice have to lose their farms because we’re now drilling for oil or stripping for resources.  These people have to endure pollution in the rivers they’ve come to depend on since being pushed off their farms.  How the hell is a humanitarian mission going to help a poor citizen if all the money from the loan is spent on the minority elite that can afford to use it?  WTF?

I’m sure by now you’re asking yourself what can we do.  I can’t tell you anything other than just do some research, listen and read with an open mind, and decide if who you’re voting for truly has your back of their own.  This year’s Presidential election isn’t about Trump vs. Clinton, it’s certainly not about male vs. female, it damn well isn’t about rhetoric that helps get them voted in to result in 4 years of excuses how the Senate and House are polarized against their platforms.  What it’s about is very simple I think, it’s about who is the best choice to go against the system.  Simply put, in my mind, neither candidate, including third-party, would ever go against the system.  Third party might have a chance, if they won, but the system is so much more than what one person can fix.  The President certainly isn’t the fix.

What fixes the system; reboots the economy; makes serious change, is us.  The non-elite people who are being broken under the weight of a socialist elitist system that has been created right under our noses.  We fix it by paying down our debt and getting rid of it, can’t be a slave to the system if you don’t owe it anything.  We fix it by working to educate others around us to start looking with wider eyes and actually seeing it for the corrupt bully that it has become.  We fix it by rising up and demanding that it be fixed through our elected officials, as we the people, have the power to remove them from office and put someone in that will listen to us.  We fix it by going back to the economists that helped create the system that worked and was backed by a gold standard.  We fix it by creating an open and honest discussion that isn’t partisan, racial, mean, or accusatory.

What would happen if all credit and housing debt in this country were forgiven, with a moratorium on any new credit, and a concerted effort to make sure anyone without the means could access the money they needed to start over?  The non-elites would benefit the most as they would suddenly own their home and everything that had been purchased on credit.  The system would start to self-correct with each subsequent paycheck.  The elite would bear the brunt of this forgiveness, including the government, as they control more debt than all the non-elite combined but don’t have any assets they could own afterwards.  Wouldn’t that be something?  It’s been done before; Germany 1947, following WWII.  It’s not such a fantastical idea, and how can 99% of the country not be right against the remaining 1%.  It starts with us and its up to us how it ends.

Cutting the cord, 4 months on

It’s been four months now that I decided to cut the cable cord and save some money on my path to minimalism.  Cable television, although convenient, was riddled with commercials and I really only watched about 10 channels out of the 270-ish available to me.  Having a DVR to record up to 6 shows at a time quickly became unmanagable in my limited amout of time to watch television.  I found I would get into a show run, get a few hours one random weekend and binge through 5 or 6 shows in one shot.  Often I would run out of room quicker than I could watch the shows and end up deleting entire series because I wasn’t in the mood to start them (at one point I was interested to watch it).

My previous setup:

  • 6 channel HD DVR system
  • 2 stream boxes (from DVR to television)
  • 75Mbps cable Internet
  • Monthly bill = $180-ish/month

My current setup:

  • 1 Roku streaming stick
  • 1 Roku 2 set-top box
  • Hulu subscription
  • Netflix subscription
  • SlingTV (but I will most likley cancel this, not the best service yet)
  • Monthly bill = $102/month (SlingTV adds $20/month)

It took some time to get used to the fact that you couldn’t just turn on the tv to a random channel like HGTV for background noise.  Paying for streaming services has a sort of obligation to pay attention, or else just not watch anything at all.  I started putting music on in the background instead (like Pandora or Amazon Music) that didn’t require any special subscriptions and I could access via Roku.  My wife is complaining that she misses watching the news, but I remind her all the time that the news is depressing and is filtered.  If she read the news like I did, I doubt she would continue after a few days.  My personal preference is that the news not be moderated or censored and unfortunately American “news” is both.

In my honest opinion, I am liking the fact that I’m saving almost $80/month and quite possibly more as the HD DVR did not turn off, ever.  It ran all the time and was consistently doing something judging by the humming of the hard drive and various components inside the box.  What I do really like the most is that I can sit down anytime, regardless of the time of day, and watch something specific and without commercials for the most part.  Some of the free streaming channels still have commercials, but they’re front ended and not during the actual show.  Easily glazed over until your show comes on.  I also have access to a lot of content via the streaming services that normally isn’t on television, although some of it isn’t that good in some cases.  Netflix in particular likes to put on movies that were so bad they are classified as “made for streaming service” and never actually publically released.

If you like saving money (other than Comcast subscribers) and can get used to not having all your content when it’s immediately available, its worth experiementing with cutting the cable cord.  Some cable companies are getting smart to the idea, espcially bundling companies, and have made Internet only service $10-15 cheaper than the bundle with Internet and cable television.  My company thankfully hasn’t done that yet.  There is an odd sense of freedom knowing that I’m not subscribing to the system of moderated and filtered content.  What do you have to lose by trying?

Why some whites are waking up to racism

Inspired by the article of the same name published by The Washington Post

It’s my lunch hour when I usually read the news from the previous days events. As I opened this article I was preparing myself for a one-sided and biased article about all the things “whites” do, or not do, to support their “non-white” neighbors. Before I even started reading the first word, I was already in a frame of mind that was making me angry at the lack of dialogue and increasingly negative rhetoric in the media. As I started reading though, I was surprised as to the tone of the article and was immediately guilty for feeling angry at the onset before even starting to read it.  The title of the article, while completely appropriate, implies something all together different out of context, at least in my opinion.

Reflexive actions

We all have reflexive initial thoughts about everything we experience through the day. Whether negative or positive, they’re the actions and thoughts that we were brought up to believe by our parents. As much as I’d like to think of my parents progressive and enlightened, they’re not. Little comments and facial expressions when certain topics come up tell me they’re not. I have several examples from my past where the reflexive thought turned into the action of speaking out loud with truly negative and hurtful consequences. I immediately realized, even as I was saying the words, it was utterly wrong and very much a white stereotypical statement. In all cases where this has happened, I’ve alienated co-workers and friends and lost friendships to never get back again. The consequence of a reflexive action is damage that can’t be undone, a statement that can’t be unsaid.

Black Lives Matter

I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t completely understand this movement despite having read quite a bit on the subject. I admire and respect the fundamental meaning that is being implied and supported, however what confuses me is how it can be warped and twisted to justify what seems to be escalating levels of violence. I’ve known for years that answering violence with violence, creates a slippery slope of exponential consequences to the point that it seems there is no end to how far it can be taken. To even begin to understand something is to admit that you just don’t understand in the first place. Then, once there is a small dialogue open, listen to the other person, really listen.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” – Steve Covey

No one seems to listen anymore, they have their dialogue already queued up and ready to fire out their mouth not truly understanding themselves in most cases why they’re even angry. I am inspired right now to find the local BLM chapter and attend some meetings to understand the problem and then seek to find ways to help, not fix, the root problem. As much as I like to think that I understand certain things, I am naive in a lot of ways to the world outside of my circle of influence. Having watched the video embedded in this article, I’m left with more questions than answers due to the fact that there are so many meanings behind the singular phrase.

Enough blame to go around

Police, blacks, whites, Hispanics….. It’s no one person or groups fault. We’re all to blame to varying extents to the problems we’ve created. I’m in a place where I recognize this. I fully accept that I’ve not done everything I can to help the situation. In this age of technology and instant communication, the injustice and inequality is being brought to the surface and shoved in all our faces. It’s saying “Here I am, you can’t hide from me, you’re isolation is no longer tolerable.” I’m excited to see that we’re finally all waking up to the problems we’ve been hiding or suppressing since the 1950’s, because in many respects we as a nation have not moved forward from this point. Stop blaming and pointing fingers, stop the negative rhetoric, stop wasting energy that only serves to divide us as a society further apart. I’m a logical and open-minded individual that is willing to listen to anyone provided they’re not judging or putting me into a category based on my outward appearance. I’ve said this before, and will say it again, everyone I meet starts at the same level of respect and acceptance until their actions dictate otherwise.

Individuals are smart, “people” aren’t

We’ve all heard it before, mob mentality. A group of people will tend to follow someone if they see others around them doing the same thing. It happens in nature all the time in flocks of birds, herds of deer, etc. An individual is instinctively vulnerable and perceived as weak. In nature, the individual often will become dinner for a predator. In our case, we have to fight the base instinct of individuality being weak and question the crowd if something doesn’t seem right. A large crowd of people listening to a singular leader on a megaphone will chant along with them regardless of whether they think the person is right or wrong. In a group, you’re individual view is not important or overruled, for most people, it’s impossible to fight that. There have been times that I fundamentally disagreed with a group and had to force myself to walk away. The group didn’t speak for me and I disagreed with their point of view and disassociated myself so that I was free to have my own view and opinion that I felt was the correct one to have. This is one of the reasons I never agreed with “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter” as I disagreed with their purpose being anything other than a protest against the Black Lives Matter movement. I have since removed posts to Facebook that contradict this statement as they were made without understanding all the facts.  I even wrote about this subject before, but I left that post published to provide me with perspective.  My anger in that post was apparent and it was based on my naivety of the movement in general.

Listening, tolerance, and repair

There is nothing we can’t fix given the right amount of effort to do so. I’m sure if I was still in contact with the people I alienated with my intolerant comments that I could start to fix the damage done. I can only take that so far though as it requires an equal amount of effort from both sides, which is the true root cause of our problems. No one is listening to each other. Hate an anger from the past is being instilled into each new generation going forward. Someone or something has to break the cycle. What has to happen for all of us to finally stop and listen to each other? After 9/11, we united as a country behind a single idea, we don’t tolerate terrorism in any form. What has to happen for us to unite behind not tolerating racism, inequality, and hate has not happened yet. That is what truly scares me, all the horrible things that have happened in the last few years hasn’t been enough for us to question or ideals and morality. It would seem at this point that we’re doomed to repeat our mistakes from the the last century.

What is the next generation learning from the hate?

That’s a question I ask every single day to remind myself I choose to be part of the solution, not the problem.

Virtual economy

WritingACheck
As if, who writes checks anymore?

While sitting down and entering in receipts and paying some bills, I started to laugh. Looking at the electronic representation of money I never really had in my possession had a comical and humorous feel to it. I mean, I worked to earn the money that was deposited in my account that I then spent on things. At no point was this money actually ever in existence except as numbers in some software. It first started at my company, then transferred to the payroll company, then to my account, then to the final destination after leaving my account. It was all electronic transfer of money relying on a system that is horrifyingly fragile to a number of external threats, all of which are real possibilities in the future.

 

Somewhere out there is an electronic record of my finances that is being used to judge my creditworthiness for almost everything. The shear amount of things that require good credit is staggering especially when you consider that more than 50% of the country is in some form of debt beyond a home or vehicle. I’m in that category myself despite having significant control over what is purchased and when. Despite my best efforts, there always seems to be something that hits the bottom line making it nearly impossible to actually save money. Everyone wants their piece of the pie along the way leaving the guy at the end left to pick from the crumbs. I’m not complaining by any means, I take responsibility for the money I’ve spent regardless of whether it was a “want” or a “need”. There are certainly things I can live without, but weighed against whether I want to or not, some things are just too convenient to live without. An example, a garbage disposal, have one for 12 years and then take it away, you suddenly realize how convenient it was.

Recalling back the last several years, I realized I rarely carry paper money anymore. I’ve come to rely on cards (ATM/Debit, CC, etc.) so much that the need to carry paper money has all but disappeared. There are only a few places that I require paper money at this point, but only because they don’t accept cards. The only other reason is when you need a purchase to be under the radar (like an anniversary or birthday present). Previously I wrote about being off the grid as a personal decision. What if living off the grid was necessary because the grid was no longer functioning? As in the case of computer hacking, electromagnetic pulse bombs, or a complete collapse of the financial infrastructure as it exists today. What do you do then knowing you have electronic money but no electronic means of getting to it or knowing if it still even existed?

DoomsdayPreppers
Doomsday preppers….  or a typical family in Texas, you choose, lol  (c) National Geographic

While I’m not a doomsday prepper by any means, I do want to make sure I’m sanely prepared for certain disasters that have a relative certainty of happening in the future. One of them being a collapse of the financial system where paper money might be the only currency that is left and actually still works. In the case of a market collapse, the only sure means of wealth to purchase what you need is precious metals like gold and silver. For over 100 years, the American currency was both gold and silver backed at least until the turn of the 20th century. People have been pushing for years to get back to that standard, however, it would mean pulling billions of dollars out of circulation in a system that is only backed by trust. Not a good place to be in my honest opinion because if it weren’t removed from circulation, the value of the dollar would fall significantly to match the gold or silver being used to back it.

 

With that said then, I’ve got a stash of paper money in my safe at home specifically for when all electronic means to access my money aren’t working. Regardless of the reason, until such a moment that the financial system collapses, paper money will still hopefully buy the necessary things to survive. Depending on the type of financial system collapse, paper money might also be worthless. An example of that was in 1929 at the start of the Great Depression, paper money was only worth cents on the dollar. The monetary system at that time was very different than it is today, however the underlying factors of wealth, greed, and power have never changed. Whether it be borrowing to purchase stocks (sometimes $.20 on the dollar) or to finance sub-prime loans for people who couldn’t afford it, economies will fluctuate regardless of circumstances. Fear is the driving force behind all the stock market plunges through history. If you objectively look at the system in place, it fundamentally doesn’t change pre-plunge to post-plunge, however people fearing they will lose money (they never had in their possession physically) make a run on a system that can’t support conversion from electronic to physical form.

redflagAn article I read recently detailed the warning sign that the housing market is again going to take a downturn. The basis of the article explained how seasoned infrastructure investors have backed off purchasing foreclosed (fixer-upper flips basically) properties due to demand for inventory and the return falling below 30%. The unfortunately side-effect of that is that novice or misinformed first time investors are purchasing these properties, on slim potential margins, often utilizing credit to do so. The red flag here is that there is the potential for that first time investor to not only lose the investment they just purchased, but also lose their current property as well. That doesn’t turn out well in a market still fragile from 2008 and serves to show that things haven’t changed that much despite the new regulations that have been put in place. Having just purchased a new home, I’m concerned that a downturn in the economy at this point would hit much harder than the previous one. The correction mechanisms in our economic systems have not recovered and would be inadequate to offer any help if a downturn happened now.

The bottom line here, and the main point of this, is we rely too much on electronic technology. There aren’t enough adequate safeguards in place to ensure the systems protection. The irony is that I’m explaining this through an electronic journal.

irony
Oh, the irony!

Craving silence is not a bad thing

silenceThere are times I feel that something is wrong with me in how I process the world around me. Sounds, particular sounds, send me off the rails immediately and will always ruin the rest of my day if they persist long enough. Using an example that is affecting me right now, my colleague over the cubicle wall is being overly aggressive with his mouse. He clicks hard enough to make the mouse sound hollow, lifts and drops the mouse like it has a ball but is an optical, and doesn’t like to use the scroll wheel evidenced by the hundreds of clicks in a row all day long. This shouldn’t bother me. This also isn’t the first time crap like this has been the focus of my online writing. This sensitivity to sound is a constant reminder to me that I’m not like the ordinary person that can block this ambient background noise out. The frustration with my sound sensitivity manifests itself as anger, anxiety, and depression (when it persists without recognition). I’ve been off and on talking with doctors and being on this medication or that, always pushing to get away from those things. Medication specifically dulls all my senses and takes the color out of everything around me. I see the need for it at the time, but addressing the underlying issue in some way negates the need to keep taking said medication in my opinion.

As my wife and I were looking for a new house, I was extremely particular about where my office would be and immediately removed homes from the list that didn’t meet my requirements. The office had to be in the basement, and more importantly, in the corner to be less likely I’ll hear people walking around above me. It also had to be away from any common area in the basement or have a solid door to help block sound. She didn’t understand how one room could have so many requirements, she’s not an introvert. In the end, I got my office in the corner, but not with a solid door. I compromised when I saw that the radon mitigation system was going to be installed in the corner of my office providing the low hum of white noise that is so well at covering over other way more annoying sounds around me. I have yet to work from home to see if it truly is adequate or still bothersome. The only time it would be an issue is when my daughter is home during the summer, any other time, she’s at school all day.

I’m not alone in the fact that true silence is a fundamental motivator for me. In the absence of true silence, like now, I find that music in the background is the best method for concentrating on a task at hand. Silence to me lets my brain process, think, and wind down to where I can more easily focus on what I’ve decided to do. The week we moved in, I found the chaos of the house too much and ended up snapping nastily at everyone around me, mostly towards the end of the week. I ended up making a list, with my wife’s help, putting in the Bluetooth headset and just working through the list listening to music. Taking my time and working at my own pace, I got more done than either my wife or I thought and it was done right instead of half-assed. She saw that letting me work through a list without interruption or interactions with others was actually quite efficient. I truly think she’s starting to at least understand what I need even if she still doesn’t understand why, if ever.

The past several months I’ve noticed that my seeking silence has lessened to a certain degree. I’ve been continually saying to myself that getting frustrated or angry over something that isn’t in my control isn’t worth my time. Instead, I’ve considered alternatives that decrease the level of hell my brain is putting me through. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, depends on the day and how many problems have been dropped in front of me. I’m not full on with meditation, but I do try to get somewhere for a little bit each day that is completely quiet to clear out the brain buffer. I’ve also resisted having a beer or a drink like I had been doing the week I was off and unpacking into the new house. I came to the quick realization that it was just clouding things and artificially pushing thoughts into the background for a while before they would come rushing back. I do enjoy a beer or two over the weekend though when I’m much more relaxed.

My daughter is also showing signs of behavior that leans more towards the introverted rather than the extroverted. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when I tell her she needs to go outside while I remain inside, I’m not sending the right message. I’m still not sure if she’s being a typical 9 year old or if there is something more that is underscoring her behavior. The wife and daughter over this past weekend decided to go swimming at a neighbors house we’re watching while they’re away on vacation (they told us we could use the pool). They left and I decided rather than sit at home watching TV or unpacking something, I ended up heading down to sit near the pool while they were there. It was forced from my perspective, but they appreciated the fact I was there even though I wasn’t swimming. I ended up relaxing a little more despite not trying too hard to do so. Silence, while something I seek all the time, isn’t always the right answer for every situation. I have to keep reminding myself that being around people is a good thing.

The natural tendency I have is to be alone. My entire life, that has been my tendency. Up until I met my wife, my life wasn’t anything special and I often spent many hours and weekends alone despite having friends that constantly invited me places. Most of my close friends understood me to an extent, and never really gave up asking, because they knew at some point I would say yes and join them. Now that I’m married with a daughter, being alone is more of a luxury I enjoy at the expense of everyone else. It’s a hard line to balance on that I need to continuously work on or things start to fall apart. After 18 years (16 married) with my wife, she reminds me when I go too far to one side without actually telling me and eventually I figure it out and come out of my inner reflection. Only time will tell if I’m able to continue adapting and balancing socialization with seclusion. What I do know without a doubt, if pushed or forced, I will always choose seclusion over anything else.

This was inspired partly by this post from The Indecisive Eejit

iPhone got chewed

I’ve been increasingly frustrated with my daughters use of devices that run on electricity with a connection to the Internet. Her addiction to these devices is becoming quite concerning for me as I see her emulating my wife’s use of the same type of devices. A recent conversation with my wife over the weekend consisted of half spoken sentences with a blank stare on the device screen, long pause, me saying “lets speak in complete sentences please” with little change to the communication taking place. My daughter is unfortunately not as adept at pretending to multi-task as my wife and flat out ignores you except for the uttering of the word “What?”….. I’m starting to dislike that word quite a bit.

DeadPhone
We were cleaning out glass and wires from the dogs teeth for an hour

The dog ate my daughters iPhone 5C two weeks ago and I was excited to have it happen. She would learn a hard and valuable lesson in how to keep your things looking and working as expected by putting them away where they belong. The second was she would no longer have the ability to kill brain cells playing whatever game of the day she downloaded and installed. It was brief excitement on my part. My wife was ready to go out and purchase a brand new iPhone 6S, at full price, with a credit card of all things! NO! I made it clear that a new phone was the wrong decision and until the daughter could demonstrate some capacity of care with her things. As in my phone is in perfect condition despite not have a case or screen protector on it and being kept in my pocket most of the time. I was in a conundrum of a decision as I didn’t want to get her anything to replace the now broken 5C.

I relented to my wife’s insistence at getting her something to replace the dead device. “Fine, whatever” I said. She knew I wasn’t happy about it, but I very quickly told her to not buy anything, I would take care of it. Heading over to the Telecom Manager’s office, I started digging through the box of devices that were going out for recycling. I found a functional iPhone 4 with a horribly cracked glass back with pieces falling out. The screen was fine though, so I grabbed it and saved it from the inevitable shredding death it was in line for. Rolling past the receiving dock, I grabbed a measured piece of clear packing tape and stabilized the back glass. No more pieces coming off this thing! Throwing it on charge and hoping that the non-Apple charger would be recognized, it started to charge. Several hours later, I got to updating it from iOS 7.whatever to iOS 9.whatever, logging into her parent controlled account, and proceeded to download and install the massive list of applications she had listed.

My plan was to give it to her after some really good behavior based on the fact that she was so upset after the dog ate her last one. That unfortunately was not in the cards as my wife, upon asking to see it, immediately gave it to her. Nothing like not getting any support for well laid plans to have a behaving daughter for a few days teaching patience at the same time…. I walked away without saying anything as my daughter ran upstairs to her bedroom to start another iPhone induced coma under her covers. Just shook my head not getting it why my brand of discipline seems to always be at odds with my wife’s brand. Yes, she’s at home with her all day while I’m at work, however she is going to be 10 soon and honestly, if she doesn’t get what she wants, can handle it regardless of the scene she displays. When I was a kid and acted like she does, I got a smack and was sent to my non-electronic laden room. She on the other hand, gets a stern voice and ends up storming to her electronic heaven of a room, which is probably what she ultimately wanted anyway. Nothing like getting your way without having to ask for it.

The concern I have for the current generation is starting to hit frightening levels. Everywhere I can see younger and younger kids on devices they should never be exposed to at such an early age. I truly believe that the occurrence of ADHD and other disorders, especially in their numbers, is the cause of instant gratification always on electronics, applications, and television shows that wire their brains all whacked. Watch a cartoon with even mild action, and count how many times in 30 minutes the screen shifts to another view or flashes. If you’re less than 100 I’d be surprised or say you counted incorrectly. The last show I watched, some Jap-anime show, flashed or switched 314 times in just 22 minutes (watched on Hulu) or once every 4.2 seconds. Essentially it was visual queues paired with mind-numbing content that kept the developing brain amped for 22 minutes with bursts of stimulus every 4 seconds. I had trouble keeping up with the show honestly.

While I attempt to do my best with limiting electronic devices, the battle is futile the older she gets as her need to be independent grows. Now that its the summer and no school, she’s home all day with the temptation to stay in bed watching an iPhone without the ability to not give into it. Even as friends come over, her impulse is to watch Hulu or play on the iPhone and drag her friends along with her. Over the weekend I turned off the router (remotely) to force her to get outside and spend time in the land of the living. She protested at first, but I forced the issue saying that it would be boring to stay in the house as the router would NOT get turned back on until after dinner and it was dark. I’m working on a chore/rule list that will need to be followed daily if she is to get the WiFi password that I’m going to change daily each morning as part of my routine. It may seem extreme, but its for her own good that she won’t understand until she’s an adult and has kids of her own. I didn’t get it until I had kids and actually apologized to my Dad for the years of hell I put him through. That’s another subject for later.

Electronics are rotting our brains, its up to the parents that remember what it’s like to not have them to step up and do what is right. Limit the screen time.

Patriotism and Freedom; What it means to me

independence-day
Have you read this lately?

Patriotic holidays often make me feel like we’re missing the point.  July 4th, which is in three days, is a celebration America’s independence from the British monarchy.  There were thousands of lives lost on both sides of the American Revolution and most people don’t realize, if it wasn’t for some help from some other countries we would have never won that fight.  The Declaration of Independence is a masterpiece of writing that is worth the time to read, look up words, understand, and keep reading until the end.  A form of writing that is all but gone in these modern times of electronics, Internet, and instant gratification consumption of media.

We, as Americans, should be more grateful for the people that sacrificed over two hundred years ago for the freedom we all take for granted today.  Even I am guilty of taking things for granted and it is something I actively engage in stopping.  I have a flag on the front of my house that is prominently displayed.  I bring it in at night, I make sure it doesn’t touch the ground, it’s never gotten wet when I could help it.  I see the flag as a symbol of freedom and sacrifice that demands my unconditional respect without question.

All of us are responsible and accountable for making sure the true meaning of Patriotic holidays are understood.

  • Veterans Day – day of honoring our service men and women
  • Memorial Day – day of remembrance for fallen service men and women
  • Independence Day – day of celebration for our Independence and Freedom

I know there are more than these three that count as a patriotic holiday.  These are the ones that all of us should recognize and remember without hesitation.  Fly your flag.  If you don’t have a flag, get one, then fly it.  Look up the rules of respect for the flag.  Thank someone that has or is currently in the armed forces.  Above all, teach your kids that it’s important to do all these things.

Patriotism is contagious, go infect someone.